Soroco school band counts every note

Soroco school band counts every note

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— Tired eyes peer over music stands to watch the next cue from the band director.

On this Friday afternoon, Harmony Glynn is leading her high school band students through George Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

"Does anyone know who George Gershwin is?" Glynn asks.

The response is weak, so Glynn suggests that the woodwinds again try the opening bars of music.

From her perch in the corner, 14-year-old Aimee Hausman grimaces at the sound she hears.

"Is it supposed to sound like that?" she asks.

Glynn reassures her students that Gershwin purposely composed clashing harmonies to give the impression of stalled taxis and impatient horns and the rush of pedestrians.

"This is what an American walking down the streets of Paris might hear," she explains.

The band has plenty of time to perfect those inharmonious notes. Both high school and middle school bands began practice just last Monday.

Like her classmates, Hausman is returning to a routine of regular practice after putting aside her instrument for much of the summer.

"Once you're playing with people again, it's much easier to practice more," she said.

Practice goes a long way when Hausman must carry the entire French horn section.

The freshman is the only high school student who plays the French horn, but she said she doesn't mind the pressure.

"I wanted to play something that was unique because a lot of other kids don't play it," she said.

Freshman Gregory Block can sympathize with her.

Block, 15, is the lone trombone player.

"It's a challenge, but it's fun," he said of playing solo.

One look around the band room will show that Hausman and Block are just two of the many young musicians in the youthful band.

Only a handful of juniors sit among a majority of sophomores and freshmen.

Glynn directs about 35 high school band members but she said the number constantly fluctuates as students split class time between band and P.E. or other electives.

The noon band hour has created a scheduling headache for many students who want to take other classes that are held at the same time, she said.

Many of the older band members were absent Friday for a student council meeting.

"This is a school where kids have to be in everything to keep the activities going," Glynn said. "So we hurt for numbers sometimes when students are away for something else."

Kyle Elston, a freshman alto saxophone player, carries the saxophone section by himself three days a week when his stand partner attends a P.E. class.

Elston said he is not bothered by the extra responsibility, despite it requiring some additional practice.

"When you are the only one, you can really stick out if you play the wrong notes," he said.

Four students who are unable to come for the noon hour work independently with Glynn in order to play with the band at concert time.

Glynn also leads high school and middle school choirs, teaches a guitar class, gives violin lessons, and offers additional instruction to any band student who wants extra help.

She said she would like to coordinate a marching band for the football season but too many band members are involved in after-school activities that would compete with marching band rehearsals.

The football team, for example, provides Glynn with several band members.

"If you take away all the football players in our band, we're left with a lot of flutes and clarinets," Glynn said. "That doesn't exactly make for a well-rounded marching band."

When Glynn does get her daily 50 minutes with the football team, she said she expects them to tackle the notes on the music stand.

Freshman Dilyan Johnson plays the trumpet and plays on the football team.

Band and football are not so different, he said.

"Playing the trumpet is like playing football," Johnson said. "It just takes practice."

Glynn said she is delighted by her students' enthusiasm for making music.

For those students who might be considering putting their music aside, Glynn is quick to point out the benefits of sticking with band.

"Sometimes they need to be reminded that music is a lifelong hobby that they can use long after their time in band class," she said.

The decision to continue playing in high school won't be too hard for seventh grader Tylor Kelly.

He said he is looking forward to playing more challenging music with his alto saxophone in high school.

"I wouldn't be playing if I didn't get to play this instrument," Kelly said. "It's the best."

Playing in the band does have its rewards.

On June 6, Soroco High School band members will travel to Florida with Hayden High School band members to compete and perform at Walt Disney World and Epcott Center.

The Soroco High School band's first concert is not until Dec. 14, but Glynn isn't wasting any time with her students.

As she lays out on Friday what she hopes to accomplish for that hour, she tells her students, "I want to make it to the fermata today."

This time two dozen teenagers give her an answer.

"We can do it, too," they say.

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